“Is that you in there, Sparky?” he called, as if by saying it aloud it validated his reason for being there. But he couldn’t see Sparky’s car along the roadside, and all along the voice inside his head dangled the question: “Could it be her—the mystery hitchhiker?”
He tiptoed beyond the tree-line, his tachycardic heart almost rupturing at the sudden commotion made by a pheasant in the branches above.
He stumbled in the brier, thorns scratching his legs, the pheasant’s warning cries breaking the stillness.
The light vanished, as if a switch had been flicked, and he found himself in darkness, the woods suddenly too quiet, until a noise—something wild, something that didn't belong—echoed through the trees, and had him running back to his car like a frightened kid.
He notched 90 mph before the straight ended in an s-bend, and it was only when he reached the Forest Town sign that his heart rate dropped and the emergent dawn light brought reassurance.
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